Student Opinion: Trump’s War on the Paris Accords and the Damage it Has Caused

Heads of delegations pose for a group portrait at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21), which led to the signing of the Paris Agreement. Le Bourget, France, November 30, 2015. (Flickr)

By Liam Benedict

The United States will be withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. This is a shocking realization for most Americans, but the truth is that President Donald Trump officially filed the paperwork to leave the Paris Accords back on Nov. 4, 2019.

It takes one year from filing for the change to go through, meaning that in only a few days, the move will be official. The fact that it falls the day after the election is a momentous coincidence, and possibly a very relevant one. 

With the election of President Trump soon after, this was all ultimately for naught. The following year after the U.S. joined the agreement: Jun. 1, 2017, Trump announced that the United States would be pulling out of the accords, claiming the accords were unfair and damaging to our economy. President Trump had to wait several years to fulfill his promise, but he ultimately did go through with it. 

President Trump has noticeably harmed the climate over the years, especially by damaging the Paris Accords even while the United States participated. The effects of his actions have been disastrous for the climate. Despite this, the exact nature of the United State’s relationship with the Accords may be changed in the near future. 

The Paris Accords were created in 2015 during the United Nations Framework Convention on climate change. 

Nearly 189 countries by the current year have agreed to participate in the agreement, where each country had to choose to lower their carbon emissions to a certain percentage by a certain year. They report their carbon emissions data to the UN, and are also encouraged to donate to a climate change fund. 

The ultimate goal of the agreement is to keep global warming from rising more than two degrees Celsius. The U.S. specifically pledged that it would reduce emissions from 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025. 

With almost every nation on the globe in this agreement, the accords used to be an inspiring show of unity and determination to change the world. And even though the United States is the second biggest CO2 producer in the world, we ended up settling on that modest goal and a modest contribution to the climate fund under Obama. While some people may have argued that this wasn’t drastic enough, it was still a step in the right direction. 

Trump, however, felt that these goals were unreasonable.

Yet, pulling out of the accords was a hasty, damaging and entirely unnecessary move. Like many aspects of the Trump Administration, this move was done simply to appease his most radical followers instead of focusing on what was good for the whole country. As per the rules of the Accords, the U.S., “could have simply changed them, rather than withdraw from the Paris accord altogether,” reports ABC News. 

Not only this, but Trump has also fought against the Accords and undermined them during the few years he had been forced to stay in them. 

For instance, Trump has refused to pay into the Green Climate Fund, which was set up to help developing countries go green.

Instead, he chose to focus on his “America First” policies. He also made the unfounded claim that the fund was a scheme to redistribute wealth from richer countries to poorer countries. 

The Washington Post reported how the Trump Administration has “teamed up with oil and gas-rich Russia and Saudi Arabia to water down language about the urgency of climate change during international negotiations.” 

Another expected, yet insidious effect of Trump’s blatant disregard for the accords is that it “has given license to some other countries to slow their own promises to more rapidly cut their emissions.” UC Davis’s very own Frances Moore, assistant professor in the department of environmental science and policy, says that Trump being elected would be the beginning of the end for the Paris Accords. 

ABC News quoted her saying, “It’s unlikely, I think, that the Paris Agreement forum could survive as a serious international agreement that’s really motivating countries to do things that they otherwise wouldn’t be doing if Trump were re-elected.” 

Moore is entirely correct here. “The US is the second-biggest CO2 emitter in the world, behind China,” reports Green While I actually agree with Trump that China and India need to be held to a much, much higher standard, that is not an excuse for the U.S. to do nothing. 

The U.S.’s future with the Paris Accords is unclear. After all, Joe Biden has said that if he wins, he will rejoin the accords on day one; a process that could be fulfilled in only six months. Not only this, but he also plans on implementing his own major environmental plan costing trillions of dollars, making it clear that this is not a half-hearted effort on his part. 

It’s also worth noting that Biden’s environmental plan, if fully implemented, could create 10 million clean energy jobs. A reminder that Trump said the Paris Accords would lead to the loss of 2 million jobs in America. It is obvious that Biden’s plan is the way forward for our country and the world; the only plan that can make America a leader in climate change solutions as it once was. 

Ultimately, those who vote this election will not only be voting for the president but perhaps for the fate of the environment as well. As we wait for all the votes to be counted, the stakes could not be higher. 

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  1. Alan Miller

    Biden’s environmental plan, if fully implemented, could create 10 million clean energy jobs.

    Be careful what you wish for.  “Create” when used with the term “jobs” is usually a left-wing term for government subsidized jobs, and “clean” is in the eye of the beholder.  Green comes with consequences, often green damage consequences.  Remember Solyndra?  Green jobs in the federal sense have been disastrous for local environments, and I have no love for going back to these Democratic disasters. 

    I am a member of two environmental groups that have been fighting big solar.  If you think Trump was bad for the environment, wait until Biden gets in and all the opportunists who feed off the foolishness of “Green” speak line up at the trough of federal “green” subsidies.  Suddenly, our fight to save the western deserts is going to become as serious and overwhelming as it was under Obama, maybe worse.

    Note:  we are not against solar – we are against big, remote solar.  Our motto:  “Solar on rooftops, not on backs of tortoises!”

    1. Bill Marshall

      je d’accord… but, the die is cast, it will be what it will be, subject to change at any given time/circumstances/getting future votes/etc.


      Be careful what you wish for.

      Always good advice… there is a great ‘country’ song… “Thank God for Unanswered Prayers”…

      Stuff happens… we adapt (hopefully)… we adjust (hopefully)… am not a fatalist, but there is some truth/some wisdom,  in ‘que sera, sera’…

      Many variables as to future…

    2. Tia Will

      “What’s the media going to do when they don’t have Trump to attack anymore?”

      Perhaps focus on issues instead of chaos, histrionics, and infantile behavior?


    3. Tia Will

      1. I am all for “government-subsidized jobs” if the private sector is not providing enough or adequately paying jobs. It was government jobs that allowed me to work my way out of poverty.

      2. All energy sources have drawbacks. I see your Solyndra and up you Deep Water Horizon, and the Valdez Exxon disasters. I share your concern about “big solar” just as I have concerns about big coal, big oil…


      1. Alan Miller

        Those were accidents.  This is purposefully and knowingly destroying desert environments.  This is largely because most people do not understand the fragility of desert environments and the extremely long natural restoration cycle times to repair damage. Government teet sucking corporations (some are modeled to do this) take advantage of this and greenwash the lies.

  2. Bill Marshall

    This could be FUN!  Particularly for conservative Republicans!

    If POTUS loses the electoral college (or doesn’t get to that point), and files multiple lawsuits, which when adjudicated, goes to the SCOTUS, and a decision is not rendered until after Jan 20, both POTUS and VP terms will have ENDED… and, under the Presidential Succession Act, the acting president will be,  (drum roll, please…)

    Speaker of the House of Representatives…

    Presumably, Nancy Pelosi!  And the Lord looks down and says, “Can’t you take a joke?”  But the joke will be on those conservative Republicans who support POTUS filing legal actions to overturn a possible election result!

    Love it!

    1. Keith Olsen

       Presidential Succession Act, the acting president will be,  (drum roll, please…)
      Speaker of the House of Representatives…

      As bad as she is at least she appears to have more of her faculties left than Biden so at that point what’s the difference.

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